Street Youth Ministry hosts a prayer hour each week at the Campus House of Prayer (CHOP).
It is attended by my summer intern (a Bible college student from Missouri), by a food volunteer (a different person each week makes an egg casserole or something similar), and by many young people who live on or depend on the streets near UT.
We gather for fellowship and then we pray together.
Street Youth Prayers
Street youth are very transparent in our prayer sessions, admitting that things are not going well for them, admitting to addictions, asking for God to give them focus and motivation to change their lives. We have a very meaningful time.
During our prayer time together, we also pray for the community, asking God to create new compassion in students, businesses, and neighbors. We ask God to change the hearts of students all around UT.
College Student Connections
One particular day, as we ended our prayer time, a UT student came in to begin a prayer time in the same room. After everyone left, he told me his story.
When adolescence hit him and his body began to mature, mental issues also began to challenge him. He was diagnosed and then he was re-diagnosed. He took one medicine and then another.
His troubles seemed to change from month to month. His level of confusion and rebellion grew over time. He began to use drugs, and he lived just as some street youth live except he was never homeless.
But all that changed one day when he met Jesus. Over time, he stopped using drugs. Over time, his mind stabilized, and he learned methods to cope with how his brain works.
He got into community college and then into UT. He’s studying to become a Christian psychologist today. And his compassion for street youth is wonderful.
He tells me regularly, “What you are doing matters. If someone hadn’t reached out to me… well, I just don’t know. These street youth need Jesus and they need compassion from all of us. I’m so glad you are here to point out that they are here with us.”
Do You have Street Youth Neighbors?
At college campuses all over the country, young homeless people are attracted to hang out because students and street youth are very similar in appearance, interests, dis-likes, and so on. Colleges are cool and interesting places to hang around.
Christian college students everywhere have an opportunity to get to know some of these often overlooked people. By doing this in groups and with healthy boundaries, students can personally and safely know street youth and make a big impact on their lives.
How Can You Respond?
Street youth sometimes share from a moment of deep vulnerability that the biggest gift they can receive is to be seen, to be heard, and to be acknowledged as a human being. Life has been tough for them and we don’t know all that they have endured.
They know their choices aren’t always good, but they crave the same things we all do… to be loved, to have meaning and significance in their lives, and to find a path to a better tomorrow.
Look around. Who can you pray for in your college neighborhood that you have overlooked in the past? Is there a homeless woman or man that you usually pass. Can you smile at them and say a prayer for their provision today?
Can you and a friend take a small gift of food, toiletries, a good book, or something else to help pass the time to them and say, “I like having something like this, and I figure maybe you would, too. You’re my neighbor, and I don’t want to ignore you anymore. Can I be praying with you today in some way today?”
God hears all prayers and answers. You may be the answer to someone’s prayer today. Or perhaps the person you meet will be the answer to your own prayers.
Be blessed today so you can bless others.